If I give it claws, we’ll talk about the monster in us.
If I give it fangs, we won’t look away from what society tells us is too uncomfortable to linger on.
If I make it a world we don’t live in, we can look at the things we don’t want to talk about. Perhaps we can find the strength to do something about it the next time we see it.
If I make its eyes glow, we’ll think about the pain we want to hide. Maybe we will find a way to deal with it too.
If we have to suspend disbelief, we can poke at our childhood programming, our insecurities, our secrets.
Stories don’t judge us. They open us up to the possibility of change, connection, hope, and purpose. They give us new perspectives on things society labels for us (as if we don’t have brains or hearts to decide for ourselves). Stories give us the option to define our own life, our own self, and realize we’re not that different after all.
A black grandpa can read the same story as a white single mom. They can both recognize love when it’s being denied, the pain of a child dying, the need for someone in this world to see us for who we truly are.
Stories show us what’s broken and what’s beautiful. They give us a safe place to peel back the layers of this life without anyone mocking us or telling us we’re wrong or bad.
Stories give us heroes with fantastic abilities, somehow making it easier for us to love them when they mess up, hurt, and prove they aren’t perfect. It gives us a little more leeway to be imperfect ourselves.
There’s a certain magic to a story, whether there’s anything fantastical or whimsical in it or not.
If we read a story about a monster with a heart, it doesn’t hurt so much to look at the monster within ourselves. Only then can we do something about it.